Intelligent Plant: What This Vine Can Do Is A Mystery To Science

Boquila trifoliata

Boquila trifoliata (Image By: inao / Flickr)

The south American Mimic Vine (Boquila trifoliolata) might seem like an ordinary plant at first. Actually you might not even notice it at first because its leaves look similar to other plants, hence the name mimic vine. But this vine can do things that are currently a mystery to science.

How mimic plants usually work
Plants may evolve to look similar to another plant if they want to blend in.  This could help them to confuse some predators into thinking that they are poisonous, or bad tasting.  Plants may also develop similar leaf shape because that is the ideal shape for their environment considering such things as amount of sun, rain, and wind.

What makes the South American mimic vine so amazing?
The primary factor that makes the South American mimic vine an amazing plant is that it can choose to mimic a number of different plants at the same time. You might be wondering how the vine knows which plants to mimic? or How the vine knows what leaf shape, size, color and orientation to use? Well that’s the mystery. No one knows for sure!

It seems that the vine mimics plants that it is growing on but it can also mimic plants that it is only growing near without any visible physical contact. Scientists currently do not know how this vine can sense nearby plants, and how this vine knows which leaf shape, size, color and orientation to use.

Image By: E. GIANOLI, F. CARRASCO-URRA/CURRENT BIOLOGY 2014

‘V’ identifies the vine, ‘T’ identifies the tree (Click to Enlarge) Image By: E. GIANOLI, F. CARRASCO-URRA/CURRENT BIOLOGY 2014

The theories
I have heard 2 theories that seem plausible but both of them are somewhat far fetched.

One theory is that the plant can chemically sense nearby plants. This in itself is not so hard to believe, things like this currently happen with other plant species.  The vine would have had to evolve a leaf-changing response to the many chemical signals that it gets from other plants, this is the part that’s hard to believe.  There would had to have been an evolutionary advantage to all the different leaf shapes that the plant can mimic otherwise this sort of evolution would not have taken place.

Another theory is that the plant can somehow sample dna from the other plants and use it itself. This is not seen in any life forms larger than bacteria.  This is a little more far fetched than the previous theory but it would explain why the vine can mimic so many different species of plants.

Conclusion
Hopefully soon the mystery of the mimic vine will be revealed but for now it’s an example of how amazing our universe is, and what mysteries still exist on our own planet.

Neil deGrasse Tyson on God and Religion


Ever Since Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey aired in 2014 I have been captivated by his teaching style and the fact that he seems so down to earth and sympathetic to those who are not elite scientists.  Neil deGrasse Tyson seems to support systems and processes that reveal genuine truth at all costs.  When I said that he is sympathetic to those who are not elite scientists what I mean is that he seems to hold those elite scientists at a much higher scrutiny in their belief in God because these are the people who supposedly understand: how the planets move, how many of the forces of the universe work according to scientific facts, and the history of how man’s belief in god has changed through the ages.  This articles contains a collection of videos, where Neil deGrasse Tyson explains his thoughts on God and religion.  I find his view of the topic very enlightening and reasonable.

This first video really focuses in on the basic principals that Neil deGrasse Tyson believes in regarding religion and more specifically God.  This is the only video I have seen where this questions is directly answered: Does Neil deGrasse Tyson believe in God?

This next video goes into more depth on the history of God and how man kind has held on to this beliefe in the face of scientific data. The concept of ‘The God of the Gaps’ is introduced here, and I have heard Tyson reference this on more than one occasion.

This is one of my favorite videos, I wish the sound quality was a little better. Tyson brings out how being more educated generally implies being less likely to be a religious person. But the video goes into much more depth on why there are still religious people in the group of elite scientists and why we should reconcile this issue before ever approaching someone who is not as educated and questioning their religious beliefs, especially in an argumentative way. Although Tyson seems to strongly believe that people have the right to believe whatever they want, in this video he goes into how strongly he feels about keeping religious beliefs out of science classrooms.

I really appreciate Tysons non-judgmental views on the situation. He seems to be more focused on why so many people believe in a personal God and distinguishing the difference between science and religion rather than focusing on pushing people to abandon their religions, like some other high profile atheists and agnostics do.

Animals Literally Falling From The Sky


I was watching a TV show the other day and there was a scene where a whole bunch of fish fell from the sky, the show never explained why so I decided to look it up and see if there was any cultural significance. I figured there was no way this actually ever happened so I was looking for some sort of mythology associated with fish falling from the sky.

To my surprise there are a bunch of recorded occurrences around the world and throughout history of fish falling from the sky. There are also recorded occurrences of other animals such as birds, bats, jellyfish and frogs.

Birds and Bats
This is an easy one. Most scientists agree this happens during storms or other meteorological events which freeze, daze or stun the flying creatures, and they fall from the sky. The most recent recorded occurrence of this happening in the US was in Bebe, Arkansas in 2010, but scientists believe this happens more often and is not usually recorded

1024px-Carp_fishes_on_dried_groundAll things aquatic
This includes primarily fish, but also frogs, and jellyfish. The first recorded occurrences of this event goes all the way back to records from Pliney The Elder in first century Rome. Apparently it still happens from time to time. In the last 200 years there have been 9 reported occurrences of fish falling from the sky not including the annual Lluvia de Peces in Yoro, Honduras. Lluvia de Peces translated ‘Rain of fish’ is an annual event started in 1998 taking place in may or June where reportedly ocean fish fall from the sky in Yoro, Honduras which is 140 miles from the nearest ocean. There was also two recorded occurrences of frogs or toads falling from the sky. One in Japan in 2009, and one in Hungary in 2010. There was one recorded occurrence of Jellyfish falling from the sky in Bath, England in 1894.

Scientific explanation
The crazy thing is, there is no universally agreed upon scientific explanation. There are a number of un-tested theories, but the truth is no one has ever been able to prove how aquatic animals are getting picked up, moved tens of miles and deposited on land.

Water Spout

Water Spout

Theories
One theory is that some of these occurrences did not happen as recorded. For instance it is possible that the Lluvia de Peces in Honduras is actually a process where heavy rains flood the area moving ocean fish inland, then the water dries out stranding them on dry land. Even if this explains some of the occurrences, what could possibly explain the well documented occurrences where it is generally agreed upon that animals were falling from the sky. Most theories involve some kind of crazy weather patterns like tornadoes over water, sometimes called waterspouts. The problem is waterspouts have never been known to lift anything up in the air and suspend it there for any length of time. Waterspouts and tornadoes have only been known to lift up objects and throw them at some trajectory. Even if this theory does explain some of the occurrences, it can’t explain them all. There have been some recorded occurrences of aquatic animals falling from the sky on days with fair weather and no expected tornadoes. There are currently no good theories to explain these phenomena.

Conclusion
I’m sure there is a perfectly logical explanation for all this. We just haven’t found it yet. The most likely explanation for these occurrences is probably something similar to the waterspout theory, but no one has ever seen it happen. So until then we are left to wonder why fish fall from the sky.

Dark Matter May Hold The Secrets to a Parallel Universe (Seriously)


Dark Matter Dark Energy

The simulation illustrates the formation of clusters and large-scale filaments in the Cold Dark Matter model with dark energy. ( By: Andrey Kravtsov (the University of Chicago) and Anatoly Klypin (New Mexico State University))

I know this sounds crazy, but just hear me out here. Once you understand what dark matter is, you’ll see how it potentially could open up to a whole dimension that we are not currently aware of.

What is dark matter?
Dark matter is simply matter that reacts with our Universe only by gravitational fields. Therefore other forms of interaction that we are used to such as light photons and radiation waves do not interact with dark matter. Since scientists can’t see dark matter directly they theorize that it exists based on unexplained gravitational pulls in our universe.

What matter is really made up of?
Keep in mind that an atom is only made up of approxiately 1% solid matter, the remaining 99% is empty space. The only reason we see things as solid is because atoms are very small and electrons move very fast around them. The only reason you can’t run through a brick wall is because the electrons in your body react with the electrons in the brick wall so that it feels like solid matter. In reality there is actually enough space for 100 versions of yourself to stand in the same place at the same time if it weren’t for the atomic forces that we are used to which prevent that from happening.

What are the scientific rules that apply to dark matter?
The only atomic force that we know of that interacts with dark matter is gravity. If that is indeed the only one then everything from light waves to radio waves pass right through. It may also be possible that the atoms we are used to can pass right through dark matter without interacting. Gravity is a relatively weak force, the only reason scientists can see the gravity of dark matter is because they are looking at huge chunks of dark matter out in space, concentrations of dark matter the size of galaxies or bigger. More importantly they can see the effects of this dark matter on the stars, planets and galaxies of our universe.

What could dark matter potentially be?
Dark matter seems to be viewed by the general public as one element. People think that it is one type of thing that we can’t see. There are nearly 100 natural elements in our universe that we know of. These elements make up everything mankind has ever seen including planets, people, animals, stars, spaceships, cars….everything. It is possible and some scientist think it is likely that dark matter is not simply one element, but a whole bunch of elements that make up an entire universe of things.

If there was a whole universe of things sharing the same space as us we probably wouldn’t even know it. Gravity is such a weak force that we don’t feel the gravity of a person next to us, or even a mountain next to us. We need something the size of planet to feel the gravity.

The tip of the iceberg
This theory is only the tip of the iceberg. The matter we see makes up approximately 4.9% of the universe, dark matter makes up 26.8%. The remaining 68.3% of matter is still unclassified. We know the matter exists due to certain atomic forces that we see the effects of such as gravity. These forces are seen as an energy in our universe and this energy is referred to as dark energy because we can not see its source. The truth is these energies have sources that are likely greater than the visible universe. There could be a number of universes sharing the same space and reacting in certain ways but not reacting in other ways. One of the most exciting frontiers of science will be to develop the methods and technology to study these parallel universes and maybe someday interact with them on a regular basis.

An Animal Was Recently Cloned Out of Extinction, But Not For Long


Pyrenean Ibex

Pyrenean Ibex

Did you know they actually cloned an extinct animal back to life, but only for seven minutes. The Pyrenean ibex (Capra pyrenaica pyrenaica) also known locally as bucardo was a species of wild goat native to northern Spain and southern France. It was very abundant in the middle ages but the population rapidly declined in the 19th and 20th century due to hunting and habitat lost to domestic grazing animals. In 2000 the Pyrean ibex was declared extinct.

The Clonning Project
Scientists planned to de-extinct the animal, but only succeeded for seven minutes. A surrogate mother of a different species did give birth to a clone of the Pyrenean ibex in 2009, but the clone died within minutes of being born.

My thoughts
They were so close! I feel bad for the little guy, but this technology could be important in the future and is worth pursuing as long as the scientists are mindful of being as humane as possible.

Although There is at least one real problem with the idea that we can just bring an animal back from extinction and it will thrive and survive in our world. That animal went extinct for a reason. The first step is to figure how to prevent species from going extinct in the first place, then we can worry about bringing them back. For example we couldn’t just bring the Pyrenean ibex back and release it into its native range, it would just go extinct again.

Tasmanian Tiger

Tasmanian Tiger

Potential use for cloning extinct animals
There are Some animals that could potentially be brought back from extinction and reintroduced into the wild with no problems, these are animals such as the Dodo, passenger pigean, and the thylascine(tasmanian tiger). They went extinct primarily due to over hunting. All we would have to do is create a strict poaching law and enforce it.

Conclusion
This technology is amazing, it’s the type of stuff we have been seeing in scifi movies since we were kids. I believe There will be a time and a place for this type of technology and working on it now will help us get there faster, but the more imminent issue is protecting nature and all the species we currently share this planet with.